Maternity Leave, The Breeding Ground & The Bitch Bell

A few weeks back I mentioned that I was pregnant — like really pregnant — and of course, I plan to take maternity leave. I’ve never questioned whether I would take leave (it is, after all, one of our main goals at The Breeding Ground), but I’d be lying if I said doing so was easy: stepping away (even temporarily) from something you’ve worked so hard on and for so long is challenging. The Breeding Ground is my baby, too!

But this has never been about me, it’s about our growing community of parents making a difference for families in the United States. And while I am away, the great resources and infrastructure we’ve created remain for you to use. Read on for details.

The Breeding Ground Continues…

Resources Just for You

Guides: For the busy working parent (or parent-to-be),  our guides are well-researched and concise so you can focus on the hard task of changing hearts and minds. Some of our favorites include:

  • How to Organize and Advocate – The City and State Edition
  • How to Advocate for Paid Leave (at work and at the legislature!)
  • How to (Help your Workplace) Create a First Rate Pump Room

You need to be registered in order to access the guides, which is a breeze (and free). Just click here.

Blog: Now’s the perfect time to catch up on some of the great content from The Breeding Ground’s blog (I don’t expect to be adding more posts while on leave). Be sure to check out:

Your Community

Discussions: Navigating childcare, leave, workplace policies, etc…. can be hard. And feel isolating. Chat with other parents in our topical discussion forums, including: The Cost of Care; Working from Home; and Pump Rooms.

Social Media: Our team at The Breeding Ground will continue sharing news and “behind the scenes” info on social media, so please like/follow/engage with us there:

Facebook: @TBGDeliverChange

Twitter: @TBreedingGround

Instagram: @TheBreedingGround (I may be posting some personal updates here while on maternity leave)

Connect with Others: Registered members can find one another via city and interest, and connect 1-on-1. Simply hit “follow” and get a conversation going. Psst: it’s super easy to register, just click here.

And on a Very Personal Note

Third trimester has been a particularly trying. Beyond the typical aches, pains, and exhaustion, which I also experienced with my first kid, in my 34th week, following a terrifying evening in the ER that included an MRI to rule out stroke, I was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy (or “The Bitch Bell” as we call it in my house).

If you’ve never heard of it before (I hadn’t), it is sudden and (often) complete paralysis on one side of your face. It makes seeing hard (your eye doesn’t blink). It hinders communication (speaking with only half your mouth working). It interferes with eating and drinking. It is (at least for me) incredibly disconcerting to look in the mirror and embarrassing (oh, the vanity — I admit it)!

I’m sharing this for two reasons. First, one of the things I love most about The Breeding Ground is the openness and vulnerability shared by the members of our community. My story is but one of many.

Second, my experience underscores our great need for paid family and medical leave in the United States. We have no national law, and there is no state law in Ohio, where I live, that provides for paid leave upon one’s own serious health condition or the birth of a child.

I am beyond fortunate to work at a law firm (I am a fertility attorney; what I do at The Breeding Ground is all volunteer) that is working with me through this and also my maternity leave. It is daunting to stare down the path of recovery from Bell’s palsy (prognosis is good, it can take 10 days – 6 months to go away) in conjunction with having a baby, and I’d be lost without their support.

But my experience is not the norm. Only 14% of US workers have access to a formal paid leave policy through their employer.

This must change if we’re to create a United States that truly supports its families. One way to do this is for Congress to pass the FAMILY Act, an insurance program that would provide paid leave to new parents and to care for one’s own or a family member’s serious health condition.

So keep working hard advocating for family supportive workplace policies, laws, and values. And I look forward to joining you once again post leave!

– Rachel

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